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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hour of Code

Hour of Code

#HourofCode is a global event designed to expose people ages 4 to 104 to the basics of coding and to demystify computer programming. Last week more than15 million students learned coding skills in classrooms all over the world.

In our classroom, scholars are a little ahead of the curve. They learned coding as part of their kindergarten experience and have continued to advance their skills this year. So, my challenge this year was to find something new that would broaden their understanding of coding and allow them to use the skill of coding to create a project that would illustrate their learning in a content area.  There are several great apps, free apps, that teach learners to code. When I began investigating the Scratch Jr app, I knew that this app would allow students to create a project where they could write code and integrate that with a ‘show what you know’ type of project. Scratch Jr allows users to create ‘storyboards’ and add characters and objects then write code to make things move and talk…a bit like a digital movie. A variety of characters and objects can be added to a storyboard then code is written for each, individually. Ultimately, all the characters/objects are programmed to move and talk simultaneously creating the digital movie.

There are several different ‘categories’ of codes:

 General Sequencing Commands
Movement Commands
Sizing and Speech Bubble Commands
Speaking Commands
Grouping, Repeat and Timing Commands
Stop/Repeat/Adding Storyboards Commands

These have all been made quite simple and allow for easy testing and correction with just a few taps.

We just finished a science unit on forms of energy, so I challenged scholars to create a project to illustrate and give examples of the three forms of energy heat, light and sound.

They couldn’t wait to get started and were completely engaged in planning, testing and improving their projects. They worked in partnerships and collaborated naturally.  Many went on to create imaginative projects of their own at home. I can’t say enough good things about this app. I see so many possibilities for its use as a platform for sharing learning across content areas. Scholars certainly improved their coding skills but also learned that it’s not just about gaming and beating levels on games. They actually utilized code to create a meaningful digital product to share their learning and that I can use to assess their learning.

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